Saturday, March 25, 2017

A Bluebell Kind of Day

#350 - Virginia Bluebells
My dad and I try to get out occasionally to hike the wonderful West Virginia Hills. Often we are exploring historical areas. Today it was on the New River at an abandoned Logging town and lumber mill. I was very surprised but very happy to find many wildflowers in bloom. The elevation there was about 1900 feet less than my home 33 miles away which is 3050 feet. So, on the drive in I spotted a glimpse of blue so I backed up and found my very first Virginia Bluebells in West Virginia.
A new Wildflower for my quest to photograph as many wildflower in West Virginia as possible.

I've know about them and hunted them but could never find them. I did finally see a waterlogged one in Tennessee. They are not rare, but elusive for me. But today, I found a hillside covered with them. And a variety of shades of blue through pink.

There were also many other ephemerals in bloom. There were Bloodroot, Hepatica, Cutleaf Tootwort, Spring Beauty and even Trillium on a sunny hillside.  I have never seen most of these in March.
The hike into the old logging camp was interesting and we saw many cutstone foundations and remains of the mill. The old bandsaw blade was sprung down a hillside and the entire site almost entirely reclaimed by the forest .

Band Saw blade from the 1920's era sawmill

Virginia Spring Beauty

Hepatica, Blue Variety 
Hepatica, Pink Variety 



   Oh! roses and lilies are fair to see;
But the wild bluebell is the flower for me.
                                                        Louisa A. Meredith.    

Friday, March 24, 2017

Snow Trillium in West Virginia 2017

I had an opportunity this week to visit a site for Snow Trillium in West Virginia. I had been here four years ago and was fortunate to find five or six plants and a couple of blooms. When I arrived this week, I found hundreds, maybe thousands of Snow Trillium in bloom. 
        They need one of two specific set of requirements in order to grow. Here it was on limestone crevices, limestone cliffs and very steep loess deposits where the soils are sparsely vegetated, if at all with no accumulating organic matter such as leaf mold and litter.(Complete Description)
They bloom from Early to Mid-March and often come up through snow. There was plent of snow around the area but not at the actual site, they had recently been covered by snow and were many that had been damaged. 
         They are rare in most areas and I was awestruck to find the numbers I dd this year. Below are many photos and some descriptionws. 

Snow Trillium (notice Stonecrop)
Typical location, limestone with minimal leaf litter

Notice size in relation to the acorn
Typical damage on this day due to recent heavy snow

Notice the acorn cap

Click for Video

Stone Crop
Snow from hike to site

At least ten plants in this picture 

Close up of reproductive parts

Monday, February 13, 2017

Smoky Mountain Spring Wildflowers

Hepatica- 2-13-2017 Growing From Charred Ground
I spent another few days in the Smokies at a Volleyball tournament (granddaughters team were 13-year-old gold champions) and was able to sneak out a couple of mornings to the park. The first morning was to Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse near Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area. It was a warm morning and nice walk but no wildflowers. I had heard Hepatica was being found blooming in places which was one reason I was looking.

On Monday morning, I went to one of my favorite trails; the Cove Hardwoods Nature Loop at the Chimney Tops Picnic Area. There, I found the recent wild fires and storms have caused much damage. But, the wildflowers seem to have survived. Many early hepatica were blooming and provided a much needed wildflower fix until spring comes to West Virginia. 

And if there's not enough to worry about in the world, there's this!!

I was afraid to turn my back on it

Actually, this was storm damaged and in danger of falling on the trail. I've never seen anything marked like this..

Nothing is fairer, if as fair, as the first flower, the hepatica. I find I have never admired this little firstling half enough. When at the maturity of its charms, it is certainly the gem of the woods. What an individuality it has! No two clusters alike; all shades and sizes. A solitary blue-purple one fully expanded and rising over the brown leaves or the green moss, its cluster of minute anthers showing like a group of pale stars on its little firmament, is enough to arrest and hold the dullest eye.

John Burroughs

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Orchids? In Winter?

It's the dead of Winter and it's been very cold and snowy for a couple of days. Church was canceled all day because of 2 degree temps this morning, -20 windchill and snow. I had enjoyed a football game and quite a bit of reading (This Strange Wilderness The Life and Art of John James Audubon by Nancy Plain) but was getting a little bit of cabin fever. At 4 o'clock, it was a balmy 8 degrees (fahrenheit) so I went for a walk in the woods nearby. I first noticed this Rattlesnake Orchid seed head and then decided to look for Pink and Yellow Ladyslippers which I knew were nearby.
So, yes, you can find Orchids in Winter..

By the way, this is my first post of 2017. In January 2013, I
began finding, photographing and identifying every
West Virginia wildflower I could find. I found over 300
that year and currently have found 349. I am fascinated
to see that people from many countries read this blog.
(United States, Canada, France, Ukraine, Poland, Brazil, Spain,Turkey, Austria, Australia, Russia, China, Germany, United Kingdom, Romania, Ireland, Indonesia )
Please let me know what you think of it in the comment box
Rattlesnake Orchid Seedhead

Yellow Lady Slipper Seedhead

Pink Lady Slipper Seedhead 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Fall 2016

#349 - Starry Campion (Silene stellata)
The weather in West Virginia is beautiful early in the fall. It has been very dry and warm but wildflowers are in great shape. On a couple of recent hikes, I have found several old friends in forest and field and a new one as well.                                                                                                                 While at Sandstone Falls on the New River Gorge National River I found this interesting flower. Starry Campion, also known as Widows Frill. (Silene stellata)
It is not very common and is rare or threatened in some places. It has distinctive whorl of four leaves as seen in the second picture

Nodding ladies tresses from around my home


Sunday, September 11, 2016

West Virginia Early Fall Hike

Our church picnicked at Camp Creek State Park and I hiked on a couple trails and saw some nice flowers including a new one or two. Below are pictures of flowers and other finds from today.

This was a very interesting plant that I found near a seep. I've never seen it before and I really like the lemon/mint odor and beautiful flowers. It is in the mint family and some sources identify it as threatened or endangered. It is a commonly used herbal remedy, often used for a descriptively name malady; "minister's sore throat." 
This is a new find for my attempt to find, photograph and ID as many of West Virginia's
wildflowers as I can

                                    #348 Collinsonia canadensis    

                            Citronella horsebalm, Richweed, Stoneroot



                                                                                                            Collinsonia canadensis   


  Citronella horsebalm, Richweed, Stoneroot

Cardinal Lobelia 

Great Blue Lobelia

Light colored Great Blue Lobelia 


Beech Drops

Maidenhair fern